Roosters-bound star Crichton chops off finger
IF South Sydney fans are questioning Angus Crichton's commitment to the club, they only need to look at his hand.
The young star has made the dramatic decision to chop off his finger in order to start the 2018 season with the Rabbitohs.
Foxsports.com.au can reveal the 21-year-old has had his middle finger on his left hand amputated.
The amputation is below the middle knuckle and happened earlier this week.
Crichton's manager David Rawlings was reluctant to discuss the procedure when contacted by foxsports.com.au on Thursday but did confirm he'd had the operation.
Crichton had already previously had several surgeries on his middle finger after rupturing the tendon while playing in the NYC.
Due to the injury, the backrower essentially had no knuckle on his finger which severely limited his range of movement.
Due to the lack of movement, he's broken the finger numerous times over the past two seasons which has required four fusions to fix.
"My finger has been an ongoing injury I've had since I was playing in the under-20s," he wrote.
"Originally, I ruptured the tendon and this is the sixth surgery I've had on it.
"It's the middle finger in my left hand and, a while back, I got it fused. I've got no knuckle in it. The doctor said I could either cut it off halfway or fuse it. I've had it fused several times now because I keep breaking it.
"I can't bend the finger, so it's like I'm constantly giving people the bird. If I clench my fist, my middle finger sticks out.
"One time, a while back, I accidentally cut someone off while I was driving and I put my hand up to wave at them to say sorry.
"The guy followed me all the way into a dead-end street. We each got out of our cars and he asked me if I'd stuck my finger up at him. I explained to him that I'd had it fused and it stuck out naturally. He understood after that.
"I don't know what he was trying to achieve following me. He wasn't a big bloke or anything, just an average Joe.
"I've decided this is the last time I'm getting it fused. It's the fourth fusion that's broken and if it happens again I'm going to have it cut it in half, because I'm just over it.
"It might leave me with only half a finger, but I guess it would save a lot of confusion."
After signing a three-year deal with the Roosters from 2019, Crichton was told he needed another operation on his hand.
This time he'd had enough with the latest procedure to fix it slated to sideline him for 12 weeks.
That would have meant he'd miss the start of the season and Crichton refused to accept that.
Instead, he's amputated the finger which has a recovery time of two weeks but it means he can complete pre-season training with the Rabbitohs and will be right to take the field on March 10 when Souths face the Warriors in Perth.
It's an incredibly selfless decision for the backrower to make at such a young age - but it's not the first time a footballer has taken the extreme step.
Former Hawthorn and West Coast Eagles player Daniel Chick had so much pain in his left ring finger due to a persistent dislocation he chose to have it partially amputated before immediately resuming his AFL career in 2002.
Still, if there was any doubt about Crichton putting in for the Rabbitohs next season, those doubts should evaporate after sacrificing his finger for the team.
A lot has been made of Crichton's decision this week to sign with the Roosters.
Foxsports.com.au broke the story on Monday that he'd inked a three-year deal with the Tricolours and while it's been insinuated by rival publications and the general public that Crichton's decision was a cash grab, the big money move would have been to join Cronulla.
While the Roosters are a juggernaut, the difference between the value of the contracts tabled by Souths and the Roosters may not be as significant as it has been made out.
With strong country values and a huge heart, Crichton isn't a person motivated by money.
A mentor to young Aboriginal men, Crichton is a competitor.
Having grown up a Roosters fan, idolising the likes of Brad Fittler and Craig Fitzgibbon, it's understood the opportunity to wear the same jersey as his heroes was a motivating factor along with winning a premiership.
It's also no secret that he will likely at some point return to his roots in rugby union.
That point could well be for the 2023 Rugby World Cup when Crichton will be 27.
With his Roosters deal expiring at the end of 2021 it would give him a full season to make a transition back to the 15-man game and stake his claim for a Wallabies jersey if he chose to.
If this decision does represent a mapped out approach to his career, then taking the chance to return back to his junior club needed to happen now.
And if he does win that desired premiership, in the next four years, he'll wear the ring with pride.
Just not on his middle finger.